Two teams fighting to stay alive in the AFC South will meet this weekend in a virtual elimination game as the Indianapolis Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 11, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Fans in local markets can catch the game on CBS.
Oddsmakers list the Colts as 3-point favorites at home with an over/under of 47 points. Be sure to check out all of Week 10 NFL betting odds.
The Colts are hoping that last week’s bye doesn’t interfere with the momentum they built up with back-to-back wins. With wins over the Bills and Raiders before their bye, Indy managed to put their four-game losing streak behind them. Alas, they are just 3-5 on the season, putting a sizable gap between them and the 6-3 Texans who sit atop the AFC South.
On the bright side, the Colts are about to embark on a three-game homestand for the rest of November. They will also play just two of their final eight games against teams that currently have a winning record. That should leave the door ajar for the Colts to make a run. But they have to hold serve at home. They also have to find a way to get back to .500 before they start thinking about the playoffs.
The Jaguars are in a similar position but took a different route to get there. Jacksonville looked like a Super Bowl contender in September, only to lose four straight games heading into last week’s bye. Like the Colts, the Jags find themselves 3-5 midway through the season. They have a lot of work to do if they want to come anywhere close to meeting preseason expectations.
Unfortunately for the Jags, their remaining schedule isn’t all that favorable. They play five of their last eight games on the road and four of their final eight against winning teams. Facing the Colts, even on the road, presents the Jaguars with an opportunity to get back on track. With a showdown against the Steelers lined up for next week, this could be Jacksonville’s last chance to get things turned around.
Both teams need to win this game badly, so it figures to be a close game. But I think Indy’s improved play before their bye will carry over. On the other hand, I’m not sure the Jags will be able to find the answers they need with the extra week. I like the Colts to win this game at home and I’m fine with them covering three points.
If’s there’s reason for Jacksonville to be optimistic it’s that running back Leonard Fournette is back at practice and is likely to play on Sunday. Fournette has just 20 carries this season, but the Jaguars have won both games he’s played. It’s not a stretch to say that he’s been what’s missing from the Jacksonville offense this year. Blake Bortles is a different quarterback when he has Fournette and a steady running game to help. Fournette’s return could be the spark the Jaguars need to start moving in the right direction.
That being said, it could take more than a competent running game to fix Bortles. Remember, he got benched mid-game in favor of Cody Kessler just a few weeks ago, so has a lot to prove coming out of the bye. Playing a porous Indianapolis defense has a chance to help Bortles. However, the Colts have been solid defending the run and getting stops in the red zone, so I wouldn’t expect any miracles from Bortles and the Jacksonville offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Jacksonville defense hasn’t been able to carry the team as they did last year. To be fair, the Jags still have the best pass defense in the NFL, which is why they still have a top-10 defense. However, the front-7 is getting hurt on the ground, which is also making it tough for the Jags to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
On a related note, the Indianapolis offensive line has surprisingly turned into one of the best in the NFL. Also, since running back Marlon Mack returned from injury, the Colts have had one of the most productive rushing attacks in the league. Between Mack and the strong offensive line, Andrew Luck has gone three straight games without being sacked. When a quarterback with his talent gets that kind of time in the pocket, he can be dangerous, even against the best pass defense in the NFL.
I’ll admit that the Jaguars have a chance to win this game if Fournette returns from injury and gets the offense back on track. But I’m a lot more confident that the Colts can keep up their strong play from before the bye week. Even counting the games they’ve lost, the Colts are averaging 34 points in their last five games. On their best day, the Jacksonville offense can’t keep up with that. I like my chances with Indy covering the spread at home.